<i><b>Wicked Alice Poetry Journal
wicked alice| spring 2008

Kirsten Holt


this is how we learn to play with fire

caution nailed outside wooden doorframes
fabric drenched in shadow sweat, tangerine breath
draped around the room like moss from crooked trees

curtains glowing like forest fires
gold-leafed and velvet, whispers flaking from pillows
hung in the air like ash

your fingertips are like matches run across candle wicks
charring my bones, ribs like wicker birdcages-
a canary's coal-choked song strains through heavy breath.

i found paralysis in your cheek bones
warmth binding skins, tangling limbs in bedsheets
like driftwood, the smell of bark and smoke

and you scorched my throat and fire-bit my shoulders
and you melted my passion in the palm of your hand.

flame-bred and smoldering, we lay in coals
surrounded by wood and ash and thorn

curtains away from sun chariots decrying the dusk with flame


Black Tie Affair

Miranda’s cracking curtsies
Even worse
Shotputting dinnerwear
Smashing class
(and glass)
trying to make you see
something more tangible than
she’s tearing off demeanor
like wallpaper
renovating the modern romance
and no one in this room would break
the silence surrounding her
she has worn heels until dawn,
smeared lipstick
ontop of lipstick,
waltzed longer than midnight
and pumpkins
and if their lips would part in protest-
something about grace
and manner-
she’d fill their lungs with wine
saving the centerpiece
for your undoing



Capulet of the Wreckage

The kitchen reeks of fever and
A preparedness for mourning, when
Wafting through the stacking pots
And the cupboard, a lantern is lit
By an uncordial hand.  

Sprawled uncomfortably, straining the
Ties of blood- but fearing motion may
Perpetuate the unwelcome flow
Of her own- she resides. Her fingers sound
Like creaking doors, her lips like coffin lids,
But it’s her eyes that undo themselves
Scapegoating for the decried. Cast the role
of martyrs, her hands spider about,
hoping the gesture murmurs something just.
There’s so much iron in the air the space
Between wont part, it’d rupture were a glance to
Falter in favor of a compass point. Rubber
Bends in tendrils, commanding the asphalt,
Its warcries in the language of the road.
Even as the corridor maidens tie back curtains,
Greening shadows peek from behind
Tree limbs, knowing the cautions of
A night brushed anger. Spiders gather
At her hem. Nightly, he’d sweat through
Three collars, but today his skin is
Washed dry as the fossils of leaves,
The ghosted beds of soldiers.  

Door to door, callous inquirers peer and rival
the stillness of her tongue, the fear in her eyes.
The collision of their stares spark brushfires.
Leatherbound and stitched, her tongue
Toils over her brain, scissored and acrid.


Villanelles in Her Pores

A skin that crawls with nouns
Words leaked from stranger's lips
Transfixed by toxic sounds  

From petticoats to gowns
Thin wrists that couple hips
A skin that crawls with nouns  

A hide that peels and browns
Revealing hidden scripts
Transfixed by toxic sounds  

Wicked and doll surrounds
The curls of silken slips
A skin that crawls with nouns

A girl’s eyes meekness hounds
Which vanish, thick, encrypts
Transfixed by toxic sounds  

In ink and silence drowns
The sounds of wrist and ships
A skin that crawls with nouns
Transfixed by toxic sounds